Four years ago my tiny boy started at a new school.
At the grand age of 4 years he’d been written off by his previous SEN school as being too profoundly disabled to learn much of anything.
Nervous and devastated, J and I asked to visit a school which was then out of our area…The second we walked in we knew this was somewhere rather special.
I don’t think there is anywhere quite like Horton Lodge. Set in the Staffordshire Moorlands, it’s a haven for children who have been dealt a crappy hand by life.
The people who work here are more than just staff, they give their hearts and soul to the place. They become family.
So, this week as the school year draws to a close (seriously, how did that happen??), our small school was suddenly packed to the rafters with parents, carers and friends as we attended the hottest awards show in town – the Horton Lodge Oscars.
One by one, each child made his or her way down the red carpet to rapturous applause; some needed a bit of support from their teachers and walking frames, others waved excitedly from their wheelchairs, looking round to see where their loved ones were sitting.
Honestly folks, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Sam won an award for joining the Wide Awake Club, a nod to how much more alert he is and how hard he’s worked this year despite a difficult drug wean.
He was so proud of himself, Mummy and Daddy were too.
The way this school and its wonderful people celebrate each and every child doesn’t just lift us as parents.
It gives us wings so we can fly alongside our brilliant children as they soar to new heights.
The reality is that there are some children no longer here to celebrate, and the pain of their absence never leaves.
But in their memory, their friends achieve what others believe to be impossible.
And in applauding each child we are reminded that the best awards are those which are hard won, but which are rarely purely academic.
Sam has achieved more in his 4 years here than many thought he would in a lifetime.
His communication is astonishing and he isn’t done yet. As the summer holidays beckon, a huge thank you to all those wonderful people who believe in our children as we do.
To the wonderful staff of Horton Lodge, we’ll see you in September x